- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A very funny deadpan sendup of inept 1950s sci-fi cheapies, more modern horror-film excesses, conspiracy theories and the banalities of small-town life, 1988’s undeservedly obscure It Came From Somewhere Else at last earns its place in the digital sun via Xenon Pictures ($14.95, xenonpictures.com). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Shooting mostly in black and white, director Howard Hassler deftly captures the look and feel of his B-movie models while relating an entertainingly off-the-wall tale about a wave of alien-engineered spontaneous combustions that begins eliminating the largely dim inhabitants of Grand Bosh, Minn.

Among the town’s odder residents are a hapless ‘50s-sitcom-inspired couple — the perpetually grinning Mr. Buckner (Richard Speeter) and his spouse (played in drag by Scott Babcock); a slew of obnoxious teens; and several aggressively indifferent authority figures, including a chain-smoking doctor (Robert Buckley) who’s blithely spreading cancer among the populace via his beloved X-ray machine.

The film integrates clever takeoffs on everything from Ed Wood epics to kung fu flicks to doomsday dramas such as “Fail-Safe” while intermittently switching to color for equally witty goofs on ‘80s gore movies. More impressively, the filmmakers avoid the self-consciousness that often pervades low-budget regional parodies and never halt their oddball story’s forward momentum for the sake of a throwaway joke.

Among the disc’s many extras are an entertaining audio commentary by Mr. Hassler and lead actor William Vanarsdale, deleted scenes, a vintage interview with producer Tim Johnson, and more.

If you enjoy “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and recent spoofs such as “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra,” you’ll want to add “It Came From Somewhere Else” to your DVD must-see list.

Tele-video

A&E; Home Video leads off the week’s busy TV-on-DVD slate with Homicide: Life on the Street, Season 7 (six-disc, $99.95), collecting all 22 season-seven episodes of the acclaimed Barry Levinson-Tom Fontana police series, along with select audio commentary, a live panel discussion and other extras.

Continuing in a criminal vein, the label likewise issues Nero Wolfe: The Complete Second Season (four discs, $99.95), starring Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton.

Paramount Home Entertainment emphasizes edgy comedy via two otherwise diverse sets: the political satire series Indecision 2004: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart skewers the 2004 presidential race, while the animated The Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons Three and a Half-ish revisits one of cathode cartoondom’s true pioneers. Both sets (three discs, $39.99 each) arrive with copious extras, from audio commentaries to featurettes.

New Video digs deeper into the medium’s mirthful past to uncover The Sid Caesar Collection: 50th Anniversary Edition (three discs, $49.95), combining 18 classic “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour” sketches with contemporary segments and bonus material galore.

MPI Home Video goes the wholesome route with The Doris Day Show: Season 1 (four discs, $39.98), containing all 28 remastered premiere-season (1968-‘69) episodes of the hit sitcom, along with cast interviews, original promos and more.

The label also ushers in the Brit import A Touch of Frost: Season 6 (two discs, $39.98), assembling a quartet of feature-length TV films starring David Jason as titular investigator Jack Frost.

The ‘A’ list

Walt Disney Home Entertainment leads the week’s slight slate of recent theatrical releases with a bonus-packed edition of the Vin Diesel comedy The Pacifier ($29.99), while Thinkfilm debuts the fascinating documentary Overnight ($29.99), chronicling the instant rise and self-destructive fall of bartender-turned-filmmaker Troy Duffy.

New Line Home Entertainment bows actor Rick Schroder’s directorial debut, Black Cloud ($19.98), a portrait of American Indian boxer Eddie Spears.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment also introduces three family-friendly DVD features — Hilary Duff in Cadet Kelly, The Even Stevens Movie ($19.99 each) and an extras-loaded edition of the animated sequel Tarzan II: The Legend Begins ($29.99).

Collectors’ corner

Paramount puts out a quartet of vintage winners. The discs are tagged at $14.99 each:

• Mario Bava’s 1968 caper flick Danger: Diabolik, in an extras-enhanced edition;

• Robert Duvall in Jerzy Skolimowski’s meditative 1985 thriller The Lightship;

• Steve McQueen in the 1969 William Faulkner adaptation The Reivers;

• Michael Ritchie’s gritty 1972 crime film Prime Cut, starring Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman.

Golden silents

The tireless archivists at Milestone Film & Video (milestonefilms.com) unearth a trio of Mary Pickford silents, all featuring new orchestral scores and rare extras — 1919’s Heart o’ the Hills, 1920’s Suds and 1921’s Through the Back Door ($29.99 each).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Looking for the “Jiminy Glick” movie. Any word?

— Susan Rhodes, via e-mail

Jiminy Glick in Lalawood, starring Martin Short as a rotund would-be showbiz pundit, had been slated for a late-July DVD release but, at last word, has been pushed back. Stay tuned for updates.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at [email protected] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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